Effective communication is an integral and essential part of our everyday lives, but there are few professions in which it can make the difference between life and death; in the medical field, it can and does often lead to the latter. In fact, a recent study on a selection of medical malpractice cases found that communication failures had contributed to nearly 2,000 wrongful deaths over the course of five years. Sadly, this is not a new or uncommon issue.
Communication Failure Not a New Issue
It has been more than 15 years since the Institute of Medicine released the report, To Err is Human, in which researchers found that nearly 100,000 patients die each year from medical mistakes. And more than two decades have passed since Boston Globe health reporter Betsy Lehman died from a chemotherapy overdose because of a communication error.
Both indicate that, not only is communication failure in the medical field a long-standing issue, it is directly responsible for thousands of patient deaths. But even more concerning is how little has really changed since that time. In fact, some studies indicate the problem may have gotten worse.
Study Highlights Only a Portion of the Problem
In the recent CRICO Strategies study, researchers examined clinical and legal records of 23,658 malpractice cases from 2009 to 2013. At least 7,000 included errors in communication, 1,744 of which resulted in patient death. These cases represented only about a third of all nationwide malpractice cases during that time period. If put into perspective, communication errors in medicine could be one of the biggest killers in America.
We Have the Solution
Probably the most disturbing and concerning issue about the deaths caused each year is that we already have the solution. Programs, such as I-PASS, a methodical method for managing patient “handoffs,” has helped reduce the occurrence of medical errors in nine pediatric hospitals by 23 percent. First implemented at Boston Children's Hospital in 2008, it is expanding to another 32 hospitals in the United States, but not nearly fast enough.
Wrongful Death Malpractice Case? Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Whether it is due to a communication failure or another type of medical mistake, doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare practitioners should be held responsible when people are injured in their care. Unfortunately, these cases are complex and time intensive. As a result, victims and their families who try to go up against them alone end up feeling overwhelmed, defeated, and exhausted.
At [[title]] we understand the complexities of medical malpractice cases, and we work closely with experts to help build you a solid case. With compassion, diligence, and dedication, we handle the legal work so that you and your family can focus on what matters most. Learn more about how we can help by scheduling your free initial consultation with our experienced Chicago wrongful death attorneys today. Call [[phone]] today.
Communication failures linked to 1,744 deaths in five years, US malpractice study finds